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broadband woes
2010-11-10 09:21:57
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Why you should avoid using plus.net as an ISP

The house i have just moved into has a plus.net adsl connection , its a quirky house on the end of a quirky street and it appears to have a quirky phone line.

The most my plus.net supplied speedtouch router could get out it was around 1mbit , so i tried my old faithful netgear router which got the same speed . I did the hokey kokey with the DSL filters and the master socket and still slower than the 90s.

I used speedtester.bt.com to check my line speed and found that my line had an IP profile (the max speed your line is supposed to support ) set at 500kbits instead of the several megabits i would expect for a line in a city in 2010 , so i set about finding out why this was.

I phoned plus.net on 0114 296 5188 which gets you through to the same place as their 0845 number (the 0114 number is included in the free minutes i get on my phone ) . I asked for permission to record the call , this is of vital importance when dealing with call centers , I then explained the problem and asked them to escalate to bt to get a line regrade and an examination of the line.

Wishful thinking on my part it seems , plusnet where not content to take my word for it and asked me to run the bt speedtester , fair enough , i ran it , it wouldn't even complete because the line was that bad.

I then had a collection of different engineers from plus.net post results of speed tests that offered no more information than the bt speedtest or the many many copies of my router stats i posted on their help page.

I then had to rinse and repeat this 7 times , each time with plusnet promising to get back to me with in 72 hours and failling every time. luckily it doesn't cost me to call them thanks to saynoto0870 so that didn't put me off.

A partial regrade was then instigated , only because of my repeated requests and insistance that the values i was gettting suggested a line fault . I actually had to ask them specific questions about the amount of FEC errors and line attenuation and remind them that their answers where being recorded and could end up as evidence in court to get them to do anything at all .

I was told an engineer would turn up and asked to be there for 3 afternoons to meet him , he didn't turn up , no calls where made about this and nothing happened until i called plus.net . they didn't even apologise.

Finally an engineer is sent out , he notices something he thinks might cause a problem and bypasses it. runs some tests and tells me his test equipment was broken by design but he has to run it. Hes happy with the state of the line and calls plusnet to get the line regraded. then the connection starts to get worse and go slower because of more errors !!!

apparently i am not allowed to see his report on the state of the line until plus.net have seen it and i may be still be liable for 140 quid fees if they can work out a way of pining it on me. This is nothing short of bullying.

so i have to call plusnet again and demand to speak to the one guy i've spoken to who actually does anything to find out whats going to happen. Apparently they are going to book in another engineer who's going to do something different because they say its now a reliablilty not a speed problem. although i can't see what else can be done given that they run standardised tests with standardised equipment. yet more of my time wasted and nothing close to an apology from plus.net or BT.

so another engineer is sent booked to come and more of my time is booked in morning sized chunks. This time there is no contact from the engineer at all but sudden increase in line speed to 4mbits so i asusume some changes where made at the exchange . So i ring plus.net who get confused and start to claim that he was in my house until point out they are reading the previous report. Not before they give the distinct impression they are going to close the ticket and charge me for the engineers vists , this was too much for me , i exploded at the call centre operative in what was definitely not my finest hour. It did however finally get plus.net to take this seriously and escalate it.

So now plusnet have moved my line on to the 21cn trial which allows them to adjust the line speeds faster to cope with troublesome lines , this has slowed it down somewhat but i now get to talk directly with the manager about my line issues , my connect speed was at the top of the 3rd band of 21cn so my connection is still being deliberately slowed down by plusnet.

Apparently i am not BT customer , despite leasing the problematic line from another department of BT and getting a DSL service from an ISP that was recently bought out by , yep you guessed it BT . There is something deeply rotten about that structure and it gives a very strong impression of being an elaborate buck passing system to cover the appalling state of the bt broadband infrastructure.

If you ask anyone from bt they will claim its the regulator that forces them to work as distinct businesses and that is true but they wont mention anything about why that is . Its because of previous monopolistic exploits with their phone system that they got in an 80's privatisation land-grab or how much money they spend on trying to tie the hands of the regulator in court. Another successful privatisation , not.

There is apparently scope for having a refund if the line is proved to be at fault ,which could go all the way back to the provisioning date when the line speed was set too low or at least will go back to the date of the query. I intend to spend that money with another isp , probably Be/02.

All of these steps are above and beyond what anyone should have to do just to get what they pay for from their broadband. This has taken a month and half to escalate through plus.net and has involved a considerable effort on my part to achieve and was beyond the reach of most broadband users . This is massively at odds with the recent government initiatives to make broadband internet access a basic human right , but then we all know politicians are full of crap , especially when they talk about the internet.

So if you are looking for a broadband connection i recommend you go with virgin or if you have to use a BT line then get your DSL from an LLU supplier like Be/02 whatever you do , avoid plus.net like the plague they clearly are.

update: i got two months refunded and they tried to make it a credit not a refund as well. if you have a less than 2mbit broadband connection complain to your isp immediately as the first speedtest they do will be the start date of your potential refund.

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The following comments on this article where made by users of this site :
after virgin cut us off without warning due to late payment - I found out just how much you can get out of 3g (via 'dongle') - seriously worth hunting down a decent (as in 'unlimited') tariff, as vm/bt are a rip - especially once you are out of contract. That said afaik phone coop have decent support and support Linux but they are not the cheapest deal you can get...
by acesabe
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